What To Wear To A Trade Interview


Today as I sat at my desk plugging away at my computer, Patrick (WorkHands CEO) comes up and asks me, “is that what you wore to your interview today?” referring to my wool coat, button up, tie, nice jeans and dress shoes. To which I replied, “yes.” He was surprised that I would wear what would be considered somewhat formal attire to a refinery operator interview. I asked him what he thought I would wear, he replied still rather puzzled, “I don’t know, just didn’t think you’d wear that.” I bring this up because there are two different trains of thought on what to wear to a trade interview and today, I’m going to discuss both.

**For this discussion we use examples as if I was interviewing for a pipefitter position, since that’s what I’m most familiar with**

The first thought process is the more popular of the two and that is to wear a nice pair of pressed up work clothes. For a pipefitter (or welder) this would consist of a pair of FR (flame resistant) pants, FR shirt (with pearl snaps, you gotta’ have pearl snaps) starched up & Texas pressed, a welding cap in your back pocket, and a pair of work boots with grit and grime cleaned off so, that they look presentable (and you don’t track mud/dirt all over the office).  The idea here is that you look nice, look the part, and if they decide to throw a surprise field exam (or weld test) at you, you’re properly dressed for the occasion.

The second occurs less frequently and that is to wear “traditional” professional attire. This would consist of: a suit, dress pants & button up, pressed up jeans & button up, nice sweater, mirror polished shoes, you get the point. Most people avoid this route because it’s not what would be worn in the field and you’re not interviewing for a position with Goldman Sachs. I can’t speak for others, but the reason I do this is because I am not only a fitter, I am a salesman and my product is me. I want to present my product in the best way possible. I also want to show them I can remain a professional in any setting, be it in an office or in the field. I do however keep my work clothes and tools in my vehicle so, that in the unlikely event they give me a field exam, I am prepared (this also shows that you plan ahead) and don’t have to reschedule, not giving them the opportunity to hire someone else.

In the world of blue collar interviews there is no right or wrong way to dress, as long as you’re prepared for what may lie ahead, but it as the saying goes, “you want to put your best foot forward.”